The battle against climate change has just begun

opinion June 18, 2018 01:00

By SPECIAL TO THE NATION

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EUROPE SETS ITS COURSE AND WELCOMES THAILAND’S MOVES TOWARDS A LOW-CARBON FUTURE



The scale of the climate challenges we face today is clear. The adverse effects of climate change are already being felt around the world and pose a great threat to our planet and its people. Moreover, they could undermine both the development gains made over many decades and the prospects for achieving the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. 

The Paris Agreement on climate change – the landmark global agreement adopted by almost 200 countries in 2015 – sets out an action plan to put the world on track to counter climate change. It has set the direction of travel for the global transition to low-emission, climate-resilient economies and societies. 

However, we already know that on aggregate the emissions reduction targets put forward by countries in Paris will not be enough to reach our common objective of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, let alone 1.5C. 

The upcoming special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will unfortunately show us that the window to stay within these limits is closing very fast. This is why we must continue to raise our collective ambition and accelerate the implementation and operationa of the Paris Agreement. 

This year, governments and stakeholders from around the world are getting together to assess how far we have come since Paris and to consider additional efforts under the “Talanoa Dialogue”. 

Taking place throughout 2018, this facilitative process, inspired by the Pacific tradition of “talanoa” – an open and inclusive dialogue – is the first opportunity since Paris to look at our collective efforts so far, and increase our level of ambition. 

The European Union sees the Talanoa Dialogue as a key moment to focus on the solutions and the potential associated with the low-carbon transformation, while also enhancing cooperation and trust. It also sets the tone for the EU’s annual Climate Diplomacy week celebrated this week. In Thailand we are organising an event on Thursday with the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning to engage with a broad range of stakeholders, share experiences and explore avenues for further collective action. 

Another important goal for the international community this year is adopting the Paris Agreement work programme – detailed transparency and governance rules for putting the agreement into practice. Adopting this “rulebook” at the next UN climate conference (COP24) in December in Katowice, Poland, is vital. A clear and comprehensive set of transparency rules will enable us to track and demonstrate the progress being made around the world and give all sides – developed and developing countries alike – a shared framework to deliver on our shared vision. 

The European Union is well advanced in its domestic legislative framework to deliver on the target of cutting domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This includes, for example, revising the EU emissions trading scheme for the period after 2020, setting national emissions reduction targets for sectors not covered by emissions trading, and integrating land use in our climate legislation.

These key pieces of legislation were all recently adopted, and further proposals on clean energy and mobility are in the pipeline. 

Committed

Additionally, the European Union is stepping up international cooperation and support to partners through policy dialogues, capacity-building projects and climate finance. 

The European Union, its member states and the European Investment Bank contributed US$24 billion (Bt783 billion) in public climate finance towards developing countries in 2016. This represents a 15 per cent increase compared to the previous year, or a 50 per cent increase from 2012, as well as roughly half of global public climate finance.

The EU remains committed to the collective goal of mobilising $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 from a variety of sources to support action in developing countries. Support to the development and implementation of the climate change policy in Thailand continues with a number of initiatives on climate change adaptation, multi-stakeholder engagement, resource efficiency, product design for sustainability, and with the recently launched Thai-German Climate Programme for climate change mitigation efforts through a cross-sectoral approach. We also welcome Thailand’s initiative in updating its Power Development Plan, which will provide a clear indication of Thailand’s pathway to a low carbon future. 

While the Paris Agreement sets the direction of travel, the journey has only just begun. Going forward, all countries will need to foster the right environment to enable this transformation to continue, supporting a long-term structural change in energy systems worldwide and scaling up investments that contribute to it. 

Low-emissions and climate-resilient growth is an opportunity for countries to grasp; it brings multiple and tangible benefits to the people, the economy and the environment. The European Union and its member states are committed to work with all partners to continue this journey together. 

This article was co-signed by the European Union Heads of Mission in Thailand on the occasion of EU Climate Diplomacy week